Canadian winters are unpredictable, but most of us still have plenty of time until we really start to get hammered with sleet and ice.
As I write this, Toronto is getting its first snowfall of the year – and when I drove to the job site this morning, I was reminded how it seems like everyone forgets how to drive the first time the roads are slick with snow for the season. As we relearn to navigate winter roads, and make the mental note to switch over to our winter tires – are we also making our checklist to get our homes winter-ready?
Canadian winters are unpredictable, but most of us still have plenty of time until we really start to get hammered with sleet and ice. Here are a few things you might still need to take care of.
Winterize your pipes
Whenever cold air meets your pipes – there’s potential for freezing. A frozen pipe can lead to a flood, so it’s your job as a homeowner to mitigate that risk. Drain all your exterior lines, wrap pipes in insulating material, and fill any cracks or gaps around outdoor pipes with a low expansion foam and a weather-resistant caulking to keep the cool air out.
If you’re planning to travel this winter, it makes sense to turn the thermostat down to save on energy costs, but don’t turn it down too much. Keep it set to about 16 degrees Celsius so you aren’t surprised by frozen pipes on your return.
Unless you’re a major winter nut, this time of year, you’re likely going to be spending much more time cooped up indoors. This is the time of year when our HVAC systems get a good workout – so it’s important to make sure they’re running efficiently.
During the winter, I usually change my air filter once a month. It’s a common misconception that the air filter is meant to create a better air quality in the home. And while it will help remove contaminants from getting circulated through the home, it’s true purpose is to protect the blower fan from dust and debris pulled into the return ducts. Cleaning the filters helps keep your system running smoothly and efficiently. Don’t skip this job.
Are your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans working well? While you can open a window to help pull out the excess moisture we create when bathing and cooking – who wants to leave a window wide open in the middle of February? Turn the fans on and hold a tissue up to them. If they’re able to hold the tissue in place, they’re doing their job. If it can’t even do that? Call your HVAC specialist, or get used to leaving the windows open this winter.
While you’re checking your vents and exhausts, give your dryer vents a good check. If lint accumulates it can become a serious fire hazard!
Schedule a fireplace check
For those of you who love a toasty fire on those long winter nights, fireplace and chimney inspections should be part of your regular maintenance schedules. Whether you’ve got a wood burning, gas, or even an electric fireplace, you’ll have to do some basic maintenance and service.
Don’t leave a fireplace unattended – and make sure you’re testing your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms every month. You should have an alarm on every floor of the house – plus outside sleeping areas. This is something you don’t want to take the risk on, believe me.
Expect the unexpected
Snowstorms can strike out of nowhere. Make sure you’ve got a good shovel, and plenty of deicing agent on hand for your driveways and walkways. Look at your home’s emergency kit (you do have one, right?) – and make sure it’s got everything you need. At minimum, you’ll need: flashlights, batteries, canned goods, water, and a fully stocked first aid kit – including necessary medication. If anything expired over the last year, replace it quickly.
There’s still plenty of time to get your home ready before winter truly sets in. Take advantage of the last few weekends before the snow hits to make sure your home is ready to weather any winter storm. And hopefully everyone will remember how to drive by the time we get our second snowfall.
Source: Mike Holmes, National Post